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Trust Our Expertise Or Face Catastrophe, Amazon Peoples Warn On Environment

Lethal Heating - 1 February, 2020 - 04:00
The Guardian

Indigenous leader urges focus on native knowledge as study shows rainforest areas under tribal stewardship manage carbon better
Amazon-based indigenous leader Tuntiak Katan. Photograph: Courtesy of Tuntiak KatanEcosystems will continue to collapse around the world unless humanity listens to the expertise of indigenous communities on how to live alongside nature, a prominent Amazon leader has warned.
Tuntiak Katan of the Ecuadorian Shuar people, who is vice-president of the pan-Amazon organisation representing communities in the river basin, said governments were spending millions of dollars on environmental consultants while largely ignoring the land management skills of the planet’s indigenous people that could help combat the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
Speaking to the Guardian from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Katan, who became the first indigenous representative at a UN climate action summit last year, said environmental “catastrophes” such as the fires that devastated the world’s largest rainforest in 2019 would continue unless the contributions and human rights of indigenous people were respected.
Indigenous communities support around 80% of the planet’s biodiversity despite accounting for less than one twentieth of the human population, according to the World Bank.
Katan’s warning came as a new study revealed that parts of the Amazon rainforest under the stewardship of indigenous peoples sequester carbon better than areas with little protection, leading to less deforestation and degradation.
“We are the defenders of nature, of the life of the forests, of our territories,” said Katan, vice-president of Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (Coica). “The world is investing lots of money to implement public policy to combat climate change, help conservation and restoration. But these policies are made in offices by technical experts with little or no knowledge of the Earth.”
Biodiversity loss was named as the third biggest risk to the world in terms of likelihood and severity this year by the World Economic Forum, ahead of terror attacks, infectious diseases and interstate conflict.
Children from the Huni Kuin tribe on land ravaged by the 2019 Amazon fires. Photograph: David Tesinsky/MediadrumimagesDespite the concerns expressed by the global elite in Davos, there was no indigenous representation at last week’s forum in the Swiss ski resort, according to Katan. He said he would welcome the opportunity to attend next year’s forum to outline an indigenous economic model based on maintaining the health of the world’s soils, rivers and the forest.
“If the proposals, knowledge and management practices of indigenous people are not listened to, there will be more big catastrophes. The issue of fires in the Amazon will continue, the degradation of forests and water will continue, deforestation will continue,” Katan added.
This month, the UN unveiled the draft of a Paris-style agreement on nature calling for a commitment to protect at least 30% of the planet, dramatically reduce pollution and promote the participation and practices of indigenous people.
Katan said: “We are well-coordinated with our brothers and sisters from Indonesia, the Congo, communities in the Arctic and from the Pacific. We’ve been discussing issues with our brothers and sisters from all parts of the world.
“In Indonesia, for example, they also have a lot of knowledge about how to manage tropical forests. But the same story is being repeated here as in other parts of the world: the lack of recognition of their knowledge and the lack of respect for the human rights of indigenous populations.”
Anti-indigenous sentiment is increasing in some parts of the planet. This month activists said they would sue Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro for his latest racist comments in which he questioned the humanity of indigenous communities.
In one of his weekly Facebook broadcasts, Bolsonaro declared: “Indians are undoubtedly changing … They are increasingly becoming human beings just like us.”
A person holds cardboard crosses that read ‘indigenous land’ during a protest against budget cuts on public education by President Jair Bolsonaro’s government. Photograph: Silvia Izquierdo/APThe new study from the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, found that between 2003 and 2016, 90% of net emissions came from outside protected lands in the Amazon.
Scientist and lead author Wayne Walker said: “Our work shows that forests under the stewardship of indigenous peoples and local communities continue to have better carbon outcomes than lands lacking protection, meaning that their role is critical and must be strengthened if Amazon basin countries are to succeed in maintaining this globally important resource, while also achieving their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.”
The findings add weight to the recommendations of a report on land use and the climate crisis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that areas held or managed by indigenous peoples had much less human impact on the environment.
The report also highlighted the lack of consideration of indigenous views and knowledge in understanding large regions and ecosystems.

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(AU) Morrison Questions Importance Of Global Climate Treaties, To Treat Symptoms Of Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 31 January, 2020 - 04:10
RenewEconomy - 

AAP Image/Mick TsikasPrime Minister Scott Morrison has appeared to downplay the importance of major international climate change agreements in a speech to the National Press Club, that further flags his intention to focus on treating the symptoms of climate change, rather than addressing the cause.
Morrison used his speech to outline how his government will respond to the ongoing bushfire crisis and renewed calls for the government to increase action on climate change by focusing on resilience and adaptation.
“This summer is the latest chapter in the often harsh realities of living in this amazing continent. Building our national resilience means building our ability to resist, absorb, accommodate, recover, and transform in the face of such events,” Morrison said.
“And this includes the effects of longer, hotter, drier summers. Practical action on mitigation through reduced emissions needs to go hand in hand with practical action on climate resilience and adaptation.”
Despite dedicating a substantial portion of his speech speaking about the Coalition government’s need to work to adapt and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, Morrison offered no new commitments from the governments in terms of policy or funding.
The speech further signals an intention to focus attention on the responses to the impacts and symptoms of climate change, rather than taking preventative action by accelerating reductions in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging other countries to do the same.
“Even under the most ambitious global emissions reductions targets, mitigation and adaptation both contribute to resilience. Mitigation reduces the risk and adaptation is how we prepare for the climate risk we cannot reduce.”
“We have to give them the room to adjust and not cut off response options like in gas exploration and development that help them move forward. The answer is not more taxes, and increased global bureaucracy,” Morrison added.
While Morrison is adopting a new rhetoric, with a seemingly greater focus on building resilience to climate change fuelled disasters like bushfires and drought, the Coalition government has a long track record of cutting funding to climate change adaptation bodies.
The Coalition ceased funding to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility in 2017, a dedicated body established to examine how Australia can adapt to climate change. The Coalition also significantly cut funding to the CSIRO, leading to the science body cutting back its climate adaptation and resilience research.
A 2017 report from Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the average annual cost of natural disasters to the Australian economy in the decade to 2016 was $18.2 billion per year, or the equivalent to 1.2% of average gross domestic product. Deloitte expects the economic cost to grow to $39 billion per year on average by 2050, as the impacts of climate change continue to grow.
Despite this, in his speech Morrison suggested it was potentially futile for Australia to try and force other countries to reduce their emissions, and promoted the often repeated message of the coal lobby that Australia is doing the world a service by selling its coal to other countries.
“Of course, we know that Australia on its own cannot control the world’s climate as Australia accounts for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions. We also know that no fire event can be attributed to the actions of any one country on emissions reduction,” Morrison said.
“You will not reduce the number of coal-fired power stations in the world by forcing the shutdown of Australian coal mines in Australia and jobs that go with them,” Morrison added. “Other countries will just buy the coal from somewhere else, often poor quality with greater environmental and climate impacts.”
The National Press Club speech was Morrison’s first major speech of 2020, and the Prime Minister will hope it will help set the agenda before federal Parliament resumes in early February, after his leadership attracted immense scrutiny over a challenging summer for much of Australia.
It was a speech that was quickly slammed by environmental groups, who see the shift in focus from the Morrison government as being intended as a tactic to distract from the need to phase-out Australia’s coal industry.
“We know that climate change has exacerbated Australia’s current bushfire crisis, and yet the Prime Minister is now calling to add more fossil fuels to the fire,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Dr Nikola Casule said.
“This is yet another move in a string of logic-defying false solutions to the climate crisis proposed by the Prime Minister, instead of meaningfully committing to reduce Australia’s emissions, which are driven by burning coal, oil and gas.”
“No amount of resilience building or adaptation will prepare Australia for the full brunt of global warming of 3 degrees or more – which is the trajectory we are on,” Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate change campaigner Suzanne Harter added.
Morrison appeared to question the value of global climate change agreements, like the Paris Agreement, reached in 2016, by suggesting they were too soft on some countries, and therefore it wasn’t worth Australia attempting to any additional heavy lifting to reduce global emissions.
“Agreements globally actually endorse massive increases in emissions, some from some of the world’s largest and growing economies. So understandably, this test the patience of people in countries like Australia, particularly in regional areas who asked the question, ‘why does their job have to be exported and their incomes exported to other countries?’, Morrison said.
“While global emissions under those arrangements are allowed to rise for so many, these contradictions and limitations need to be acknowledged.”
Underlining this, Morrison went on to praise the United States for the emissions reductions it has achieved, largely driven by a move towards gas away from coal, despite the Trump administration’s plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
“It’s worth noting that the United States has achieved higher rights of emissions reduction than many of the nations that are signatories to the Paris Agreement,” Morrison said.
“All of this is the climate action we need now, building dams, developing new crop varieties, improving planning for natural disasters is climate action now, the science tells us the effects of emissions already in the atmosphere will continue to be filled in coming decades,” Morrison told the National Press Club.
Morrison was greeted at the National Press Club by protesters from the Canberra University Students for Climate Justice, who called on the Prime Minister to ramp up the federal government’s efforts on climate change and clean energy.
“We need an immediate and rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Firefighting services and the cost of the recovery, including compensation for victims, should be paid for by the fossil fuel companies that caused this catastrophe,” coordinator Grace Hill said.

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Quiet Australians Decide It Is Time To Speak Up On Climate Change Action

Lethal Heating - 31 January, 2020 - 04:05
ABC NewsTracy Bowden

Rod and Margot Cunich hold vigils outside Dave Sharma's electoral office. (Supplied: Simon Cunich) Key points
  • Concern about climate change has become a key political issue for a growing number Australians
  • A perceived lack of government action has prompted many people to protest for the first time in their lives
  • Many new demonstrators are looking for an alternative to rowdy mass demonstrations
For the first time in his life, semi-retired lawyer Rod Cunich is so angry about a political issue he feels he needs to take action.
Concern about climate change has prompted him and his GP wife Margot to take to the streets.
"We decided we need to stand up and try to motivate people who ordinarily wouldn't be motivated, those quiet people who sit by, are concerned and do nothing," he told 7.30."I hope it is going to bring people like us, what we call quiet Australians, to ask their local members … to advocate for us and ask for proper climate change policy," Margot Cunich added.
They are just two of an emerging group of new activists.

'Ordinary Australians'
Rob Henderson's placard among other signs at the vigil. (Supplied: Simon Cunich)It was a smoky summer holiday, as bushfires raged on the south coast of New South Wales, that sparked the Cunichs into action.
"We spent the whole ten days being locked inside because of smoke and then our PM being overseas and coming back and down-playing the role of climate change in the fires," Mr Cunich said.
But the couple was looking for an alternative to the large, often rowdy, protests being staged on the issue.
They organised a quiet protest outside the office of their federal MP, Liberal member Dave Sharma, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
"I look at the protests and I think, they're young activists or old activists who can be easily dismissed as ratbags doing their own thing, we can ignore them. And I've been guilty of that," he said.
"We want to distinguish ourselves from those groups and say, look, we're just ordinary Australians, we're not radical but our votes count."
The self-described swinging voter took out an ad promoting the vigil in his local newspaper and set up a Facebook page.
There were many messages of support in response, but they also struck major opposition from climate change deniers.
"I haven't had a death threat but a lot of things not far short of that," Mr Cunich said.On the day, more than 250 people turned up, many of them taking part in something like it for the very first time.
"I saw the note going out about quiet Australians and I thought, there's no excuse for not showing up," demonstrator Kirsten Dreese told 7.30.
"If you're quiet, if you're an introvert like me, we should all be doing something."
Rob Henderson was another novice protester.
"It's a first for me holding up a placard, that's for sure," he told 7.30, while holding up a sign reading, "Quiet Australians sick of hot air".

A growing issue
Erin Remblance has become an active climate change protester because of her three children. (ABC News: Nikki Tugwell)



Erin Remblance, a mother of three young children, has also decided to take action, but in a different way.
Two years ago, she knew little about the details of climate change.
"I wouldn't have even described myself as being an environmentalist or a [greenie]," she told 7.30.
"I'd never been to a protest, that wasn't my style."
But, now she's attended a series of major protests and strikes in Sydney and has made practical changes to reduce the family's carbon emissions.
"I assumed [climate change] was being looked after. I wrongly assumed the governments would look after us and do the things that were right," she said.
  10 years of climate policy inertia
Ten years ago one man's plan blew apart Australia's two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.
"Now I've become aware that actually that's not happening and there needs to be more leadership on this issue.
"I'm fighting for my children's futures."The latest survey by research group IPSOS shows a jump in concern for the environment.
The proportion of Australians citing climate change as their key concern jumped from 24 per cent in May 2019 to 41 per cent in January this year, coming in ahead of issues such as healthcare and the cost of living.
Dan Evans from IPSOS says the research also shows a broader age group aware of the issue.
"Older Australians, the Boomer cohort, are becoming more concerned," Dan Evans from IPSOS told 7.30.
"But in a broad sense, everyone's a bit more concerned.
"At the federal election that was the fourth most important issue facing the nation, now it's clearly the top concern."

Is the Government doing enough?
The crowd outside Dave Sharma's electoral office demanding action on climate change. (Supplied: Simon Cunich)Wentworth MP Dave Sharma declined 7.30's request for an interview.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has consistently said the Government is acting to reduce emissions and insists Australia will "meet and beat the emissions reduction targets".
Daniel Wild, from the free-market think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs, understands the demonstrators' concerns about the bushfires this summer but says the Government is already acting.
"One of the points these protesters seem to be making is that Australia isn't doing anything when it comes to reducing emissions," he told 7.30.
"Well, that's just not true.
"Australia has the deepest cuts to emissions per capita under the Paris (climate) Agreement, which is the Government's policy."
Rod and Margot Cunich don't believe it is enough.
They are planning quiet demonstrations every four weeks for as long as it takes and they want others across the nation to follow their lead.
"It's non-partisan, we don't care who the politician is," he said.
"Every single politician, in our view, should be taking climate change seriously and doing something about it."

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We Can’t Recall The Planet If We Mess Up: Climate Change Is Risky Business

Lethal Heating - 31 January, 2020 - 04:00
Washington Post - Rob Motta | Jim White

A man stands in a flooded street in Miami on Sept. 10, 2017, as Hurricane Irma hits the area. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)If we handled climate risk the way that businesses manage risk every day, we would have tackled climate change a long, long time ago. But that’s not how we as a society are responding — even though the potential consequences are a lot worse than most business risks.
Consider how climate change risk is expressed in key reports like those from the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The NCA says there is at least a two-thirds chance that your asthma or hay fever will get worse because of climate change. There’s a more than 90 percent probability that extreme precipitation (think flooding) will increase in frequency and intensity. What about heat waves increasing? There’s a 99 percent probability. In fact, heat waves kill more people than any other weather-related event in the United States.
What about rising sea level? Under our current emissions trajectory, the NCA says there is a 2 in 3 chance that between $66 billion and $106 billion of real estate will be underwater by 2050. And we mean literally underwater.
How do we handle these risks from climate change? Not very well. We want more data, more proof that the risks are real before acting.
Let’s contrast that with how businesses handle risks. Companies would not be content with a 66 percent chance that a fire will start in their building, or a 66 percent chance that the wheels will fall off a new car they release to production. That’s an untenable level of risk.
How do we know this? Because we know of the tools companies use and the level of risk they are willing to tolerate. One tool used extensively is a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). An FMEA is used to assess the risk of failure of every component in a product (like every bolt), and the consequences of that failure to the overall product (like the car).
The FMEA scale goes from 1 to 10, with 10 being worst case and one being what the engineers and designers shoot for. A 10 rating corresponds to a 10 percent or greater probability, a nine to a 5 percent probability and a two rating corresponds to a 0.0001 percent probability or lower. A one rating corresponds to zero probability. So the automotive designers strive for a 0.0001 percent probability of failure, or better. Wow! Meanwhile, we are talking 66 percent, 90 percent and 99 percent probabilities with climate change, and we have done little so far to mitigate these risks.
In contrast to the automotive world, it seems like we want climate scientists to strive for 100 percent certainty. It’s like saying, “I want you to be 100 percent certain the wheel is going to fall off my car before you take any action.”
Risk is generally expressed as the probability multiplied by the impact. It is the combination of these two variables that determines the level of risk. So a high probability risk with a small impact might not be a significant concern. But a high probability risk with big impact is a real problem.
The wheel falling off your car has a big impact. So is your house being underwater. In both cases, we want to drive the probability as low as possible. And there is one big difference between the wheel falling off your car and climate risk. When the auto company makes a mistake and a risk occurs, they can recall the vehicles and fix the problem. You cannot recall the sea lapping at your front door or the air that your asthmatic child is breathing.
It’s like we are speaking two different languages. I guess the risk of destroying the climate, and a good part of Earth, is not as worrisome to us as the risk to an individual car.
One of the most worrisome risks of all with climate change is that the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will start to collapse this century, triggering up to eight feet of rising sea level by 2100 and putting the fate of our low-lying coastal cities in peril. Can you imagine trying to relocate millions of people inland? How many people will suffer? Who will pay the cost?
What’s that probability? Nobody really knows for sure, but a recent survey of climate scientists who specialize in rising sea level put it at 5 percent. Multiply that by the cost of all the infrastructure in harm’s way. The same study indicated almost 200 million people would be displaced. Nothing to worry about, right? No need to take action.
Let us make it clear: We are not criticizing scientists for the way they express risks. We certainly want scientists to have high confidence before we accept a new wing design on a plane or that new prescription drug. But climate change is different. We have already gone way beyond what the business industry would react to. We can’t recall the planet if we mess up. So let’s get on with it and stop asking the scientists for ever higher certainty in their predictions. That’s a recipe for beyond disaster.

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Top Academics Write To Morrison Government Asking For 'Deep Cuts' To Australia's Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lethal Heating - 30 January, 2020 - 04:10
ABC NewsMichael Slezak

The academics have called Australia "ground zero" for climate impacts and climate policy uncertainty. (ABC News: Michael Barnett) Key points
  • Australia's top academics say research has identified what technologies are needed to address the solution
  • Angus Taylor stands by the track record of the Federal Government on the issue
  • Researchers believe Australia can be a world leader on the issue if governments accept the need for action
Eighty of Australia's top academics have written an open letter declaring an "urgent need for deep cuts" to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions following the current unprecedented bushfire crisis.
The group of Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellows describe Australia as "ground zero for both climate impacts and climate policy uncertainty" and warn that without strong action on climate change, the world may not support human societies "in their current form and maintain human well-being".
They say research has identified what policies and technologies are needed to address the solution but "what is lacking is the courage to implement them at the required scale".
The letter calls on Australian governments to "acknowledge the gravity of the threat posed by climate change driven by human activities" and "reduce greenhouse gas emissions in time to safeguard against catastrophe".
"We owe this to younger generations and those who come after them, who will bear the brunt of our decisions."The letter, signed by 80 past and present ARC Laureate Fellows, notes that decades ago, scientists warned that the impacts we're seeing now, like the bushfire crisis, were coming.
It is only the second time the group of Australia's top academics have taken such action. The first was in December last year when 50 of them wrote in defence of whistleblowers who raised concerns about international students on ABC's Four Corners.

More than just fire management
The letter was coordinated by Professor Steven Sherwood, a climate scientist from the University of New South Wales, and includes top academics in fields including economics, healthcare, history and law, as well as many different scientific disciplines.
Professor Steven Sherwood has called for action on greenhouse gas emissions. (Supplied: UNSW)"We're a small group that has been selected by the Australian Research Council as the top researchers in our respective fields," Professor Sherwood said.
"It's a good group to think about all aspects of the problem — it's not just a science problem. It's a problem that spans all of those areas."
They call on governments to do more than just focus on adaptation to future fires.
Adaptation isn't enough, they say, since the world is still warming and is "only at the beginning of the climate change phenomenon."
"The current impacts are happening with just one [degree] Celsius of global temperature increase, but we are set for the best part of another degree even if very strong international action is taken to reduce emissions."
"If strong action is not taken, environmental degradation and social disruption will be much greater and in many cases adaptation will no longer be achievable.
"It would be naive to assume that such a world will still support human societies in their current form and maintain human well-being."Opportunity for Australia
The researchers note that Australia cannot fix the problem on its own, but argue Australia's "visibility as ground zero for both climate impacts and climate policy uncertainty" means we could become a leader on the issue."Doing so will aid our economy, strengthen our standing in international affairs and relations with neighbours, and help secure Australia and the world from the impacts of climate change."
Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has backed the Morrison Government's record on climate change. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)Professor Sherwood noted the transition could be painful for some communities and they will require assistance.
"For example, we probably need to provide economic support to coal-mining regions," Professor Sherwood said.
"Many mining jobs are set to disappear no matter what our governments do, so this would be a concern even if we didn't care about the planet's future."The letter concludes: "We call on all governments to acknowledge the gravity of the threat posed by climate change driven by human activities, and to support and implement evidence-based policy responses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in time to safeguard against catastrophe.
"We owe this to younger generations and those who come after them, who will bear the brunt of our decisions."
"It's an urgent problem and a problem where the political sphere isn't moving fast enough," Professor Sherwood added.
In a statement, Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the Federal Government has a track record of which "all Australians could be proud".
"We have beaten our first Kyoto target, we are on track to overachieve on our 2020 target by 411 Mt and the most recent projections published in December 2019 show we are on track to beat our 2030 target."

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Climate Change Splits The Public Into Six Groups. Understanding Them Is Key To Future Action

Lethal Heating - 30 January, 2020 - 04:05
ABC Radio National - Rebecca Huntley (Big Ideas)

We must create a chorus of different communities demanding a viable future. (Getty: Mark Evans) Rebecca HuntleyDr Rebecca Huntley is an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales.
A researcher on social trends, Dr Huntley presents The History Listen on RN each week. 
This article is an edited extract of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute Oration given by Dr Huntley at the University of Melbourne. It was recorded and broadcast by ABC RN's Big Ideas program. In Australia there is now widespread public acceptance of the reality of climate change; we seem to see its effects almost hourly.
But the electorate still votes for political parties with environment policies that I would call recalcitrant, and with significant groups of climate deniers in their ranks.
The issue of climate change has become a battle of ideologies, values and worldviews, something that has become much more pronounced in the last decade thanks to our political class and to parts of the media.
Knowing what we know about human beings, our psychological and evolutionally makeup, there's no evidence that these divisions are going to be broken down by more scientific evidence or just the passage of time — not that we have much time to spare.
And we should not assume that as climate change becomes worse, these divisions will start to heal.
For these reasons, I have long been keen to understand the ways people respond to climate change — and the language we need to use to convince people to take action.

Six groups of people
I have spent the past 15 years listening to Australians talk about climate change. (Supplied: Rebecca Huntley)Last year I spent time with researchers at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which has conducted countless scientific studies on public opinion and behaviour around climate change.
Much of what they do is informed by the Six Americas study, a segmentation first conducted in 2009.
It measures the American public's climate change beliefs, attitudes, risk perceptions, motivations, values, policy preferences, behaviours — including voting patterns and media consumption — and underlying barriers to action.
It groups the public into six different segments, varying in size and well differentiated in terms of their attitudes to climate change and their views about action.
  • The Alarmed: This group is fully convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change and already taking individual, consumer, and political action to address it.
  • The Concerned: This group is also convinced that the globe is warming and that it's a serious problem, but have not yet engaged with the issue personally, including not always voting for political parties with strong climate policies.
  • The Cautious, the Disengaged and the Doubtful: These groups represent different stages of understanding and acceptance of the problem. None are actively involved.
  • The Dismissive: This group is very sure that climate change is not happening, and often actively involved as opponents of a national effort to reduce emissions. Some of them are in significant positions of power in government, industry and the media.
The public is grouped into six segments depending on their attitudes to climate change and their views about action. (Supplied: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication)As someone who has spent about 15 years listening to Australians talk about climate change, this approach immediately resonated with me. It made sense.
The qualitative research I've done has revealed the extent to which attitudes about climate are informed not by an understanding of science, but by world views, values, political identification, social and cultural conditioning and gender identity.

Shifting segments
As I contemplated this Six Americas study, the mammoth task of the climate change movement was taking shape in my mind.
We need to increase the Alarmed cohort, absolutely no doubt.
But we also need to develop and hone their skills of talking to others not of the same mindset.
And we need to provide social and emotional support as many of them — many of us — struggle with feelings of grief, dread and burning anger about what's happening to the planet and the response of many of our political leaders.
How spending $200 a year
could help prevent climate change
On average, Australians are willing to chip in an extra $200 a year to prevent climate change. It turns out that money could go a long way.
We need to shift more of the Concerned group into the Alarmed group.
We need to find a way to convince the Cautious that urgent action is necessary.
This, very difficultly, often requires language that isn't fraught with tones of crisis. More on this in a moment.
We need to engage the Disengaged — probably the hardest task of all, because it requires us to rebuild their faith that our democratic institutions are capable and willing to do something about it.
And finally — in my opinion, and I say this with no trepidation whatsoever — we need to drive the Dismissive group out of positions of power in our government, stop the flow of their donations into our political parties, and find smarter ways to engage with them in the media, including social media.

What underpins our response to climate change?
There is an Australian version of the Six Americas study, led by Donald W Hine from the University of New England.
It took a similar approach and came up with five groups — which echo the Yale segments but without the Disengaged.
It was conducted in 2013 — a relatively long time ago given all that's happened since — but remains highly valuable because it takes into account a broader range of cognitive and emotional factors that underpin human responses to climate change.
These include:
  • How close do people feel to climate change effects?
  • Do they see local manifestations or not, and do they identify them as being connected to climate change?
  • Do they feel an emotional connection to nature?
  • How much do they trust climate change authorities or authorities in general?
  • How much do their self-reported feelings of shame, guilt, anger and fear condition them to respond in certain ways to the climate change issue and remain open or closed to solutions?
These are now the questions I ask myself in the process of developing, conducting and analysing any research on climate change.

How climate change has impacted
the world since your childhood
Global warming is already changing the world before our eyes — let's see what has happened in your lifetime.
Language matters
I've also spent a lot of time wondering about the efficacy of the language around climate change, around emergency, crisis and urgency.
The facts of climate change and the need for rapid response absolutely merit these terms.
To not use them seems to be more than a sin of omission but an outright lie to the public about the scale of the threat and what's at stake.
Those in the Alarmed group feel more than comfortable with this message.
Some of the Concerned group respond well to messages of urgency, and others not so well.
But the language of crisis and emergency can actually turn off those who are Disengaged and Cautious, and make them more critical of attempts to address climate change.
The ABC's Australia Talks survey found people in Queensland and the NT are more conservative on environmental issues. (Getty: Virginia Star)These people can have a strong belief that the issue is overplayed by the media and "politicised".
They dislike the gloom and doom tone of the debate, its remote and inaccessible language, and the fact they feel guilty and depressed when listening to climate change messages.
They rightfully question whether our political and business leaders have the capacity or the desire to ensure that any transition to an economy built on renewables doesn't penalise already struggling groups in our society.
My research has taught me important lessons about climate change communication: be solution-focused and positive, understand the values of the people you are trying to convince, do not fuel division and conflict, and relate solutions to our sources of happiness and common concern.
The challenge is how to activate cooperative values rather than competitive values.
In my view, we must stress what we have in common: the desire for secure work, safe neighbourhoods, a good standard of living, security and happiness — whatever that might look like for different groups of people.

A transformative moment
We also need to find ways to shift those in the large Concerned segment into the Alarmed cohort.
A moment from my own recent past shows it is possible.
In December 2018 I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee and turned on the TV.
I saw hundreds of teenagers skipping school and protesting in the streets about climate change, with handmade signs that spanned from the serious and angry to the humorous and profane.
"There are no jobs on a dead planet." "You're burning our future." And my favourite: "Why should we go to the school if you won't listen to the educated?"
After watching young people strike, I made a decision at that moment to put climate change at the heart of everything I do. (ABC News: Jedda Costa)As I sat sipping my coffee, I thought to myself, "Good on those kids telling the powers that be, the older generation, that they need to do more about climate change."
And then it hit me. At almost 50 years of age, I am part of that older generation, part of that generation with a platform and a voice some of these young people don't have yet.
It was as if those teenagers were speaking to me.
In that moment something shifted inside me, a sensation hard to describe and yet I can recall it now with clarity. It actually felt physical. I felt like they were telling me to do something.
And so I made a decision at that moment to put climate change at the heart of everything I do: in my work, as a parent, as a consumer, as a citizen.
It's a factor in every decision I make about the research jobs I will accept, about the energy that I will have in my house, about the transport that I will take, about the food that I will eat and about where I will invest my superannuation.
This transformative moment, the moment I tipped from concerned to genuinely alarmed, didn't happen because I read an ICCP report or sat through a presentation from a climate scientist about CO2 levels.
I reacted to a crowd of children holding up signs in the streets, girls who were only a few years older than my eldest daughter. Suddenly it became very personal.
That I can make a contribution to this movement, probably the most important in our history, is such a relief to me and helps me manage the angst that overwhelms me from time to time in the night.
My first task is to understand how we maintain our optimism as we move deeper into a climate change-affected future.
I, we, can protest, change the terms of our super fund, install solar panels, and vote for parties with strong climate policies — or any climate policies, really.
We have to stop voting for parties who don't have sufficient climate policies. (Getty: Martin Ollman)But one of the most important things we can do is understand why other people feel the way they do about climate change, and learn to talk to them effectively.
What we need are thousands, millions, of everyday conversations about climate change.
That will help enlarge the ranks of the Concerned, engage the Disengaged and make the Cautious more convinced of the need for action.
This will then expose those who dismiss both the science and the solutions, the denialists — who are today a minority, albeit a powerful one — as what they are: out of step with the rest of us, determined to put our collective wellbeing and our way of life at risk.
We must not let their voices be the loudest in the public arena.
We must create a chorus of different communities united in asking, indeed demanding, that we act now to preserve a liveable world and a viable future.

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Inequality Makes Climate Crisis Much Harder To Tackle

Lethal Heating - 30 January, 2020 - 04:00
The Guardian

What Davos didn’t face up to is that we can’t expect poor people to make all the sacrifices
Greta Thunberg (second from right) and other young climate activists at Davos last week. Photograph: Markus Schreiber/APFor those perched at the top of the mountain, the view is perfectly clear. Climate change is the issue of the moment and has to be tackled without delay. Governments, companies and individuals are all going to have to adjust to the new reality.
Anybody who is not with the agenda – for example, Donald Trump – is either mad or bad. There was a big US delegation to Davos last week but it found itself isolated – in public, at least – on the climate emergency. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum found Greta Thunberg’s call to arms much more compelling.
Later in the year there will be a much more important event than the World Economic Forum: the UN climate change summit (COP26) in Glasgow. In Davos it was hard to move without hearing the phrase “race against time”.
Almost 15 years ago Nick Stern, then head of the UK Government Economic Service, produced a report on the economics of climate change in which he called the failure to deal with a heating planet the greatest market failure of all time. He argued that the benefits of early action outweighed the costs.
Last week Prof Stern, now chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said the threat was now being taken a lot more seriously. There were four reasons for that.
First there was evidence, after a 1C increase in temperatures since pre-industrial times, of the failure to act. “We are seeing some pretty nasty stuff already,” he said.
Second, the scientific evidence was now clear that there was a big difference – for example, in the length of droughts – between a 1.5C and a 2C increase in temperatures.
Third, the education system was producing a generation of young people across the world well versed in climate, sustainability and environmental issues, and they were putting pressure on their parents to act. Young people wanted to know why the economics profession had been slow to include climate risks into their models, which was a justifiable criticism, Stern said. Only a tiny fraction of the papers published in economics journals have related to sustainability.Finally, Stern noted, an awareness was growing that there is a more attractive way of doing things. The days of the internal combustion engine were numbered, the cost of solar energy had collapsed and there had been dramatic advances in battery-storage technology.
Yet the chances are that Glasgow will not deliver as much as the scientists say is necessary. In part that’s because some important countries, including the US, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia most prominently, will resist pressure to make the commitments that are needed.
But it is also because the view from the bottom of the mountain is hazier than the view from the top. Consider why Emmanuel Macron did not show up at Davos this year. The French president took precisely the kind of action deemed necessary to tackle the climate emergency – whacking up the cost of driving fossil-fuelled vehicles – only to find the country erupt into protest.
The message to Macron from those on low incomes was clear: don’t talk to us about the end of the world until you have told us how to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Trump and his team see things through the lens of the yellow vest protesters. When Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, said his government was committed to taxing carbon emissions more heavily, the US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, replied: “If you want to put taxes on people, go ahead and put a carbon tax. That is a tax on hardworking people.”
It’s easy to dismiss Mnuchin’s comments as those of a politician with his head in the sand, but he has a point. Speedy action to tackle the climate emergency requires political action. But political action will only be possible if governments can carry their voters with them. And that is not going to be possible if the measures enacted appear to be all pain and no gain.
The Stern report came out in 2006 and it is now 2020. In the intervening years there has been a whopping financial crisis, and a decade in which living standards for the majority of people have moved sideways. It is much easier to worry about the future of the planet if you are comfortably off and don’t have to rely on a food bank.
The problem – and this goes to the heart of what is wrong with Davos – is that nobody really wants to confront the issue of inequality. There was plenty of hand-wringing about the climate crisis, much talk about the need for higher investment in new technologies, and a lot of head-scratching about weak growth. What there wasn’t – as usual – was any willingness to adopt the obvious solutions.
Any sensible person observing the World Economic Forum annual meeting from the outside would come up with the following analysis: working people are going to be less terrified about new technology if they are represented by a trade union.
Growth would be higher, and less dependent on debt, if workers were able to bargain collectively. Public support for more rapid action to fight global heating would be stronger under a more progressive tax system. Entrepreneurs would develop new green technologies more quickly if governments set more onerous targets for reductions in carbon emissions.
All these notions are anathema to those running multinational corporations. They hate the idea of trade unions, they are ideological in their opposition to stronger states, and they recoil from the idea that they should pay more tax.
But if poor people are expected to make all the sacrifices, expect some resistance. And expect the battle ahead to be long and hard.

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What Was Said At Davos On Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 29 January, 2020 - 04:10
New York Times

Global leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland agree that a rapid response is needed to stave off disaster.
Prince Charles and Greta Thunberg both spoke about climate issues last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Credit...World Economic Forum, via Associated PressAs the effects of climate change are increasing around the world, so is talk about solutions — from  businesses, governments, nonprofits, individuals (especially young ones), scientists and others. While there are many advocates for change, most experts would say progress needs to be much faster to avert global disaster.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, climate change was at the top of the agenda. Talks took place in open panel discussions, hallways and private meeting rooms. Businesses and global leaders like Jane Goodall and Prince Charles made some commitments. Below are excerpts from panels and speeches, which have been edited and condensed.
Urban Truths: Unlocking Net Zero Pathways for Cities
The panel, a collaboration of The New York Times with support from Wellcome Trust and BCG Digital Ventures, was led by Somini Sengupta, a Times climate reporter, and looked at the climate health nexus through the strategic lens of cities. The panelists were Kate Brandt, the sustainability officer at Google; Christiana Figueres, a diplomat from Costa Rica; and Maria Neira, director of the public health, environment and social determinants of health department of the World Health Organization.



Somini Sengupta, New York Times climate reporter
Ms. Sengupta: We, city people, have a disproportionately large carbon footprint, emitting 70 percent, give or take, of emissions. We represent 50 percent of the population and emit 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So how are cities going to adapt to what is already a hotter planet, and how are cities going to do the heavy lifting of mitigating emissions? That’s what we’re really here to talk about.


Christiana Figueres, diplomat, Costa Rica. Credit...Markus Schreiber/Associated Press
Ms. Figueres: All of our cities, and I know very few that are not, are congested, polluted, completely unhealthy environments. And that is an assault on our human right to health and to breathe clean air, simply put. Now it’s not so easy, obviously, to go from there to a system where all vehicles — and this is the ideal — all vehicles are shared, and hopefully not owned, and clean, and where there is efficient, clean, interconnected public transport. Because you will never get any public transport, whether it be buses, or whatever, that take you from A to B; you will always have to interconnect.


Maria Neira, World Health Organization. Credit...Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA, via Shutterstock
Dr. Neira: If you are the mayor of a big city and you want to do something about mobility in the city, it will be very unpopular in certain ways. That’s why you need to convene a kind of working group where you involve citizens, involve mothers who are dealing every day with a child with asthma, involve all of those with health data to try to put maybe in a less painful way the life expectancy that you are losing if you live in, for example, New Delhi.


Kate Brandt, Sustainability Officer, Google. Credit...Vaughn Ridley/Sportsfile for Web Summit, via Getty Images
Ms. Brandt: And I think that’s interesting, too, about getting street-by-street air quality data. What we’re seeing in cities around the world is it’s often the most urban populations who have the worst air quality. So when you actually have that granularity of data, it becomes very stark and very clear that there are issues, and there are opportunities to address them, and you can really see that disparity actually in the air quality data.

Averting a Climate Apocalypse
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager and climate activist, made the opening remarks at a Times panel, “Averting a Climate Apocalypse,” moderated by Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy managing editor of The Times, with Ma Jun, the director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in China; Oliver Bäte, the chief executive of Allianz; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, coordinator of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad; and Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.



Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy managing editor New York Times
Ms. Blumenstein: Five years after the Paris Accord, governments need to reset their goals and businesses are finally and quickly talking about setting goals. We have top voices from across the world to discuss the urgency of the situation and next steps. But we are going to start with some words from Greta Thunberg, who made headlines around the world last year by saying here at Davos that our house is on fire.




Greta Thunberg, Swedish teenager and climate activist. Credit...Alessandro Della Valle/EPA, via Shutterstock
Ms. Thunberg: I joined a group of climate activists demanding that you, the world’s most powerful and influential business and political leaders, begin to take the action needed. We demand, at this year’s World Economic Forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction; immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies; and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050 or 2030 or even 2021. We want this done now.

Ma Jun, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, China. Credit...Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Mr. Ma: China’s emissions [goals] have not been accomplished. We’re still burning half of the world’s coal. We need to do more. But now, at this moment, we’re facing the economic downturn locally and globally. We’re facing the [trade]war and also the withdrawal by the U.S. government from the Paris agreement. All these are not helpful. So we need to find innovative solutions which tap into the market power, which can balance growth and protection. But all this needs people to join the efforts. So with that, I truly salute the efforts to raise public awareness.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad. Credit...Hanna Bardo/EPA, via Shutterstock
Ms. Ibrahim: This is today. This is our reality. When the forest is barren in Australia, in the Amazon, it’s forest that is disappearing. Back in my region, it’s people that are dying. Dying because of the climate change. Losing their lives. They would not think about the future. When people talk about 2050, for me, I’m like, really? Seriously. By 2050, there’s no solution for this planet. We need it now.


Rajiv Shah, Rockefeller Foundation. 
Credit...Mike Cohen for The New York Times
Mr. Shah: Climate change today bears its brunt mostly on the bottom two billion people on the planet. And so our commitment to Paris, our commitment to be serious and urgent and taking actions to meet those targets, is not just about protecting the future. It is also about protecting today people who rely on climate, environment and those natural resources to survive and to thrive.


Oliver Bäte, Allianz. Credit...Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Mr. Bäte: In the past it was always governments demanding business to change business models and then we had to adapt. Today, unfortunately, I believe that governments are behind the curve behind us. I can only speak for my home country. We always talk about the plans when we would get out of coal. But we’re discussing dates. We’re not discussing action. And what we are trying to do is put real action behind it.


One Trillion Trees
Jane Goodall, the renowned British anthropologist, gave her support to the World Economic Forum’s initiative One Trillion Trees, which supports the growing, restoring and conserving of a trillion trees worldwide by 2030.

Jane Goodall, British anthropologist. Credit...Alessandro Della Valle/Keystone, via Associated Press
Ms Goodall: The reason I think that the one trillion tree project is so exciting is, people say to me all the time what can I do? What’s one thing I can do? You can plant a tree, and whether you plant the tree in your own backyard or whether you pay to have trees planted in Tanzania, or if it’s urban or rural, you know it’s something you can do.


Sustainable Markets
Prince Charles came to the World Economic Forum after a nearly three-decade absence, with a 10-point Sustainable Markets plan that would include setting clear plans for governments and businesses to reach net zero in their carbon emissions and rooting out “perverse subsidies” that prevent the global economy from becoming more sustainable.

Prince Charles, British Royal Family. Credit...Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Global warming, climate change and the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats humanity has ever faced and one largely of our own creation. I have dedicated much of my life to the restoration of harmony between humanity, nature and the environment, and to the encouragement of corporate, social and environmental responsibility. But now it is time to take it to the next level. To secure a future and to prosper, we need to evolve our economic model. It is not a lack of capital that is holding us back, but rather the way in which we deploy it.
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How Davos Became A Climate Change Conference

Lethal Heating - 29 January, 2020 - 04:05
TIMEJustin Worland



The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, informally known as Davos for the Swiss ski town where it’s held, is typically a conference about the economy and geopolitics. It makes sense that in 2020, as Australia burns and activists turn out by the millions, Davos approximated a climate conference.The conversation held over the past few days showed that it’s become impossible to ignore reality: a warming planet is reshaping geopolitics and threatening the economy as we know it. Around the halls of the conference center in Davos, CEOs and government ministers, politicians and celebrities, talked about big solutions to fix that. They discussed how GDP has failed us as a metric of societal health and the need for new government support for climate mitigation.
“I don’t want to be naive, but I want to acknowledge that the center of the global economy is now saying things that many of us have dreamed they might for a long time,” Al Gore said at a dinner convened by WWF International. “They’re saying them forcefully and eloquently.” The question is, where does that conversation lead us?

A Clear and Present Crisis
Most people with even the loosest familiarity with the science of climate change know that it poses a long-term risk that could lead to drowned coastlines and charred cities. Yet, for years it remained a secondary issue for corporations concerned with short-term earnings and government officials who didn’t view it as a kitchen table issue.
For that reason, it remained on the margins of conferences like Davos, which instead centered around the economy. “I can remember when climate was talked about in a tent outside,” Rachel Kyte, a long-time climate leader and the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, told me.
What’s changed is the growing immediacy: climate change has become a clear and present crisis. Australia is on fire. Heatwaves struck much of the world last year, including Western Europe. And, in the last five years, the cost of climate-related disasters in the U.S. topped $525 billion, close to a third of the cost of natural disasters since 1980. Meanwhile, climate activists have forced corporate leaders to at least say they’re listening.
The risks posed by climate change were underscored even before the conference began, with the release of the WEF global risk report. All five of the top risks in terms of likelihood touched on climate and the environment, including extreme weather events, failure to slow emissions and invest in adaptation, and biodiversity loss.
The rising concern of environmental issues at Davos, Part I
Every year, the WEF ranks the top 5 global risks in terms of impact. In 2009, no environmental issue made it into the top 5; since 2017, three of the top 5 have been environmental issues.Chart: Elijah Wolfson for TIME Source: WEF 2020 Global Risk Report Get the data Created with DatawrapperThe rising concern of environmental issues at Davos, Part 2
WEF also ranks the risks in terms of likelihood. In 2009, no environmental issue made it into the top 5; in 2020, all of the top five risk were environmental.
Chart: Elijah Wolfson for TIME Source: WEF 2020 Global Risk Report Get the data Created with Datawrapper 
These fiscal risks helped drive the conversation around climate change in Davos. Just a few days prior to the start of the conference, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said climate change would lead to a “fundamental reshaping of finance” and promised to rethink its strategy.
“Usually, the conversation immediately pivots to sort of far off long-term risks,” Brian Deese, BlackRock’s global head of sustainable investing, told me in Davos. “Those risks, while they do accelerate out into the future, are more pressing on the market today than most market participants understand.”
That was underscored by an announcement in Davos from the International Monetary Fund that climate change “already endangers health and economic outcomes.”
Meanwhile, companies made new commitments to protect nature and biodiversity, acknowledging nature’s centrality to their supply chains. And a group of investors—called the Net-Zero-Asset Owner Alliance—committed to having a zero-emissions portfolio by 2050 grew to more than $4 trillion in assets.
“Momentum is growing at an incredible pace,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church of England, which joined the alliance at Davos. “It really feels like we have reached a tipping point so that we can do this.”

Towards a “Better Capitalism”
But despite all the talk at Davos, that change is still not happening fast enough, and many say the efforts that have been made are too piecemeal. In perhaps the most publicized moment of the week, Greta Thunberg said “pretty much nothing has been done, since the global emissions of CO2 have not reduced.”
Of course, a lot has been done, but those efforts are also far from adequate. Global temperatures have already warmed 1° C since the industrial revolution and are on track to rise to 3°C even if governments follow through on their current commitments, blowing past the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping temperature rise well below 2°C.
And, while investors and corporations wield enormous power, there is widespread agreement among experts that actually tackling climate change—to the extent that it can be tackled—will require governments to step up in a major way.
There are a range of different approaches to tackling climate change, and at Davos leaders politely discussed which they preferred. But the discussions were much broader than wonky policy concerns like how to structure a carbon tax (though there was plenty of that).
Broadly, participants discussed how to end the multi-trillion giveaway that fossil fuel producers receive in the form of subsidies and whether we should move away from GDP as a measure of societal wellbeing. “The version of capitalism we have today in our world must be reformed,” said Gore.
It’s fitting, then, that the official theme of this year’s Davos gathering was “better capitalism.” Around the halls, political leaders and business honchos talked about the need to rethink our political and economic system, in large part to address climate change and its byproducts.
They chatted about the challenge of growing inequality, and many shook their heads at President Trump’s speech cheering economic growth and dismissing climate change. “Our capitalism must be sustainable; it must allow us to fight against global warming following a rapid and credible calendar,” Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister told reporters, according to a translation. “We must move quicker.”
The question is, when push comes to shove, will all the talk about changing the system amount to anything more than words?
There are a number of challenges ahead. For all the corporate leaders that say they will tackle climate change, there are others that aren’t so interested. As while some investors move away from heavy polluters, other remain ready to swoop in hoping to make a quick buck.
Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, described the dynamic as a “tension” between the companies that see themselves as part of the solution and “an old energy” driving companies that operate with business-as-usual assumptions.
A Greenpeace International report released during Davos showed that 24 banks that attended Davos this year financed the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1.4 trillion between the adoption of the Paris Agreement and 2018.
Governments have their own challenges. Some, like the U.S., aren’t responding at all. Others, like the EU, have done a lot already, picking the low-hanging fruit, making further reductions more challenging. Meanwhile, developing countries still need to figure out how to continue to grow their economies while limiting the increase of their emissions.
At Davos, there was widespread commitment, but not always detail. This year will be a critical test of whether we cans get that detail as governments prepare to make new commitments to reduce emissions under the Paris Agreement ahead of the November UN climate conference in Glasgow. Davos was a good start; leaders are talking. Now they need to act.

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(AU) The Recent History Of Australia's Climate Change Wars

Lethal Heating - 29 January, 2020 - 04:00
SBS - Nick Baker

Australia's politicians haven't only just started fighting over climate change - here's how the issue has previously dominated parliament
Climate change has dominated Australian politics for more than a decade. Source: AAP


As Australia continues to grapple with a horror bushfire season, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under increasing pressure to commit to further action on climate change.
Protests against him have raged in the country's smoky cities and he has attracted blistering criticism from across the nation and around the world.
A protest in Sydney in November. AAP
It was in this context that Mr Morrison opened the door to "evolving" the government's climate change policies last week.
"The cabinet and the government will continue to evolve our policies to meet our targets and to beat them," he told the ABC.
It's the latest development in the years-long political conflict around Australia's climate change policies, which has claimed the scalps of several leaders and shows no sign of being resolved soon.
But how did we get here?

Kyoto opposition
At the turn of the millennium, then-prime minister John Howard made it clear Australia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty in which countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A protest at John Howard's Sydney office in 2006. AAP
But as parts of the nation were gripped by drought in the early 2000s, climate change became a front-and-centre issue for many Australians.
So much so that the conservative Mr Howard went to the 2007 election with an emissions trading scheme and committed to increasing spending on measures to tackle climate change by $627 million.
"Implementing an emissions trading scheme and setting a long-term goal for reducing emissions will be the most momentous economic decision Australia will take in the next decade," Mr Howard said at the time.
Protesters wearing shirts that read "don't walk away from Kyoto" follow then-PM John Howard. AAP
Siobhan McDonnell, a lecturer in climate change and disasters the Australian National University, said Mr Howard "shifted substantially" on the issue towards the end of his prime ministership.
"He shifted in part, I think, in response to the climate science ... He was prepared to tackle these issues," Dr McDonnell told SBS News.
"Climate change hadn't become the issue so deeply entrenched in the right [side of politics] at the time, that it later was to become."

'The great moral challenge'
But after 11 years in office, Mr Howard lost the 2007 election to Kevin Rudd.
Unlike his predecessor, the Labor leader sought to be a global warrior for the climate cause, describing it as "the great moral challenge of our generation".



The first official act of Mr Rudd's government was signing the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
Labor then got down to business and tried to craft and pass an emissions trading scheme, called the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
And that's where things got complicated.

Rudd, Turnbull out
In late 2009, Labor sought common ground with the opposition to get their emissions trading scheme through parliament.
Then-Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull endorsed the plan, but some in his party promptly turned against him.
The anti-CPRS Tony Abbott beat Mr Turnbull in a leadership contest by a single vote, and the Liberals suddenly became far less receptive to bipartisan climate action.
In a scathing opinion article days after, the defeated Mr Turnbull called Mr Abbott's new climate stance "bullshit".

Mr Turnbull slammed Mr Abbott in the Fairfax newspapers. www.smh.com.au
Meanwhile, the Greens opposed Mr Rudd's plan for not going far enough to curb emissions.
Any hope of passing the CPRS seemed to disappear by 2010 so it was shelved by Labor until at least 2013.
Kevin Rudd after the leadership spill in 2010. AAP
But Mr Rudd's popularity consequently plummeted and within weeks, he was removed as leader by his party, with Julia Gillard becoming the prime minister.

The carbon tax
In the lead up to the 2010 election, Ms Gillard pledged a "citizens assembly" to resolve the issue of climate change, which she later conceded was "probably very naive".
And, in a statement that would come back to haunt her, she promised there would be "no carbon tax under a government I lead".
The 2010 election between Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott resulted in Australia's first hung parliament since 1940, meaning that each leader had to negotiate with crossbenchers to win power.
Julia Gillard in Parliament House in 2013. AAP
Ms Gillard got the support of Bob Brown's Greens along with other key crossbenchers and retained her prime ministership.
She went on to announce her plans for a carbon pricing scheme, dubbed by critics as the "carbon tax", which passed in 2011.
Ms Gillard called it "a win for Australia's children".
"It's a win for those who will seek their fortunes and make their way by having jobs in our clean energy sector. It's a win for those who want our environment to be a cleaner environment and to see less carbon pollution," she said at the time.
Ms Gillard also set up the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, two government entities to boost clean energy.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie told SBS News the establishment of these entities was a "high point" in how the nation tackles climate change.
"Both bodies have quietly made a huge difference to financing innovation and new technology," she said.

Axing the tax
Mr Abbott railed against Ms Gillard's climate policies and his commitment to "axing the tax" defined his time as opposition leader.
The climate debate over these years reached new levels of vitriol.
In a move that resulted in heavy criticism, Mr Abbott attended an anti-carbon tax protest at Parliament House and spoke in front of signs which read "ditch the witch" and "Ju-liar... Bob Browns bitch [sic]".
Tony Abbott speaking at the anti-carbon tax rally in 2011. AAP
Mr Abbott won the 2013 election and the carbon tax was repealed soon after.
Then-Greens leader Christine Milne called the repeal a "tragic day".
The new PM instead opted for a scheme called Direct Action, which paid businesses and communities to reduce their emissions.
Under Mr Abbott, Australia signed up to the Paris Agreement in 2015 and agreed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2030.

The NEG and Turnbull's demise
With Mr Abbott's poll numbers stubbornly low, Mr Turnbull successfully challenged him for the leadership and became prime minister in 2015.
In a move he hoped would end the climate wars, the then-PM proposed the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), an integration of climate and energy policy.
But once again, many Liberals rebelled against Mr Turnbull and soon, both the NEG and Mr Turnbull's prime ministership were history.
Enter Mr Morrison.
Scott Morrison brings a lump of coal into Parliament House. AAP
ANU's Dr McDonnell said, "Turnbull attempted to fight the fight internally ... He lost the leadership as a result and the politics became entrenched at that point".
"It became the defining issue for the [Liberal] leadership, it was like, you can only hold the leadership if you're not prepared to take any meaningful steps in relation to climate change," she said.
"Australia's emissions definitely reduced substantially under the Labor government and since we've had a Coalition government they have increased substantially. That is just the factual story."

'A massive wake-up call'
As the 2010s came to a close, the climate change warnings of experts and studies became increasingly dire around the world.
Pedestrians walk towards Darling Harbour as smoke haze blankets Sydney. AAP
In Australia, a crescendo was reached at the end of 2019.
A horror bushfire season, which was predicted by economist Ross Garnaut back in the Rudd years, swept the nation.
So far, at least 31 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
A koala is rescued from the fires on Kangaroo Island. AAP
Cities have been choked with bushfire haze and images of the more than one billion injured or killed wildlife have shaken Australians.
The Climate Council's Ms McKenzie said, "the bushfire and smoke crisis should be a massive wake-up call to the Morrison government".
"This is exactly what scientists have been warning them about for decades. The government has no credible policies to tackle fossil fuel pollution which is driving climate change," she said.
"The crisis should prompt a wholesale rethink of Australia's approach the climate change."

From Hawaii to an 'evolving' stance
In December, Mr Morrison took a Hawaiian vacation in the middle of the bushfire crisis.
He faced severe criticism and later apologised.
Australian tourists snapped this picture with Scott Morrison in Hawaii. Twitter: @Ben_Downie
From there, things did not get much better.
Mr Morrison was heckled during a visit to the bushfire-hit town of Cobargo, which a fellow Liberal said he "probably deserved".
And self-proclaimed climate sceptic Liberal MP Craig Kelly went on UK television and disputed the link between climate change and Australia's fires.
In the fallout, protests against Mr Morrison have been held in capital cities and show no sign of stopping.
His approval rating plunged in a recent Newspoll and the Coalition is now trailing Labor for the first time since last year's federal election.
A protester holding a photograph of property destroyed by bushfire is arrested outside of Kirribilli House. AAP
To ease the tensions, Mr Morrison admitted last week, "there are things I could have handled on the ground much better".
He also responded by announcing there would be a royal commission into the disaster and saying climate policies could, yet again, change.
"We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it," he told the ABC.
ANU's Dr McDonnell said it could be a pivotal moment.
"There is a shift, but for me, the question is will it be enough? ... Australia is just so vulnerable to climate change."

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(AU) Australia's Bushfires To Push Global Emissions To New High: Met Office

Lethal Heating - 28 January, 2020 - 04:10
Sydney Morning HeraldPeter Hannam

Australia's huge bushfires are forecast to help drive global atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide to one of the fastest annual increases on record.
Average carbon dioxide levels reached about 411.5 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere in 2019, adding to a steady climb propelled by human activities, according to a calculation of figures released by Britain's Met Office.


Smoke from bushfires is spreading high and far east.

However, the pace could accelerate this year, in part because of the carbon being released by the Australian fires.
"A forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii,  in 1958," the Met Office said in a statement.
Australia's bushfires have so far burnt about 12 million hectares, including more than 5.2 million hectares in NSW, 2.5 million in Queensland, 2.2 million in Western Australia, 1. 4 million in Victoria and about half a million in South Australia.
"While human-caused emissions cause the CO₂ rise in concentration, impacts of weather patterns on global ecosystems are predicted to increase the rise by 10 per cent this year," the Met Office statement said.
"Emissions from the recent Australian bushfires contribute up to one-fifth of this increase," it added.
Estimates this year indicated the fires had resulted in at least 350 million tonnes of CO₂ - or about two-thirds of Australia's annual emissions - based on burning of 5 million hectares. Global treaties typically do not count such emissions to a national account since the incinerated vegetation is assumed to grow back eventually.
“Although the series of annual levels of CO₂ have always seen a year-on-year increase since 1958, driven by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the rate of rise isn’t perfectly even because there are fluctuations in the response of ecosystem carbon sinks, especially tropical forests," Professor Richard Betts, of the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services and the University of Exeter, said.
Emissions from bushfires in Australia have helped push global levels of carbon dioxide to new highs, the UK Met Office says. Credit: Nick Moir"Overall these are expected to be weaker than normal for a second year running," he said.
Australia posted its hottest and driest year on record in 2019, factors that contributed to the readiness of forests to burn, climate scientists have said.
This year, atmospheric concentration of CO₂ are expected to peak above 417 parts per million in May, while the average for the year is forecast to be 414.2 ppm, with a range of plus or minus 0.6 ppm, the Met Office said.
This annual average represents an increase of 2.74 ppm, with a range of plus or minus 0.57 ppm rise, on the average for 2019, it said.

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(AU) Climate Change Is A Serious Threat To National Security

Lethal Heating - 28 January, 2020 - 04:00
Canberra Times - Robert Niven

Ah, the Australian summer! Christmas holidays, some jobs around the house, and shaving every day.
Because as you know, dear reader, to wear a half-face respirator you must be clean-shaven.
This fire season has seen the deployment of soldiers and reservists to aid in the firefighting efforts.
This fire season has seen the deployment of soldiers and reservists to aid in the firefighting efforts. Picture: Department of Defence Robert NivenAssociate Professor Robert Niven is an academic at UNSW Canberra, with expertise in environmental contaminants and risk assessment. This summer has certainly tested our boundaries far beyond normality, even for those of us who saw this coming.
We have now seen our dystopian future, along with its military language: we have "ember attacks", "firefronts", "firegrounds", and towns and people "lost".
Witness the daily briefings by heads of firefighting agencies, like WWII generals preparing for battle. Witness the ACT Emergency Services Agency's cross-border raids into NSW, taking the fight to the enemy, like the Israelis, or Kissinger's bombing of Cambodia.
To me this recalls Henry Lawson:
And many a rickety son of a gun, on the tides of the future tossed
Will tell how battles were really won that History says were lost ...
How 'this was our centre, and this a redoubt, and that was a scrub in the rear
And this was the point where the guards held out, and the enemy's lines were here'.
But just like the Israelis, or Kissinger, we can't fight this war forever - not this way.
Another great shock was our incredible shrinking Prime Minister, unresponsive, unaware even that a response was needed. Morrison the Unready.
Here is the paradox of modern Australia: a highly capable, practical, versatile, adventurous people, forged from many nations, who can bridge effortlessly between Europe, Asia and the Americas; a nation of highly trained specialists. Yet we allow ourselves to be mismanaged by a clueless blokey managerial class, across government, business and all of our institutions.
If our responses are presided over by Australia's utterly incapable political class, we may not even survive as a people or nation-state.We have just witnessed thousands of people rendered homeless, many for years; the entrapment and forced evacuations of tens of thousands of people under dire circumstances; 10 million hectares burnt and more than 1 billion native animals killed; widespread damage to livestock, agricultural systems and the economy; lethal air pollution in several major cities; long-lasting impacts on our drinking water supplies; and exposure of major gaps in our communications, electricity and transport networks, fuel supplies, air pollutant monitoring systems and fire reporting. A national tragedy which no terrorist or adversary could have dreamt possible!
Yet no representative of Australia's security state, its media champions, or the well-funded security industry, has sought to make any comment or undertaken any act of leadership.
This is the problem of poor risk assessment: the risks catch up with you in the end. Deny the existence of some severe risks, or exaggerate some risks at the expense of others, and your entire risk assessment - hence your response - will be skewed.
Perhaps this explains our Prime Minister's caught-in-the-headlights response in December. Did he seriously believe his election rhetoric?
This is the most shocking dimension of the problem: a security Prime Minister had not imagined that climate-change risks are a matter of national security.
I don't claim to speak on their behalf, but I certainly think Australia owes our protesting schoolchildren an apology.
Can the Australian people see through the mirrors? Despite the vast sums spent on Australia's security over the past two decades, especially on terrorism and asylum seekers, Australia's security and defence apparatus seems antiquated and unfit for purpose. Is it just an edifice, an ornament used to win elections?
Could the $10 billion spent on onshore and offshore detention since 2006 have been better spent on climate action and preparedness?
Risk management is always a zero-sum game. A dollar spent on a lower risk here could have been spent on a higher risk elsewhere. Distort the risks, and you will pay the price. There are no right-wing or left-wing risks: they are all risks. They must all be assessed on the same scale.
What is the future? We can be sure that Australia's adversaries will have noted our newly exposed vulnerabilities - and exploit them. If this summer wasn't apocalyptic enough, imagine a new hybrid warfare with AI weapons, cyber disruption, influence campaigns and climate change? Sci-fi, cyber-fi, info-fi, cli-fi.
If our responses are presided over by Australia's utterly incapable political class, we may not even survive as a people or nation-state. We don't have time for another ten years of denialism, or failure to act on climate change. This is war.
As the first step, we must face up to Australia's incapable managers and talking heads across our society: the directionless political class, the press and talkback toadies, the rent-seeking business leaders, the public servant sycophants in suits. They must all be removed as a matter of national security.
We cannot continue our current stupidity as if nothing has changed.
It is time, and beyond time, to allow Australia's underlying capability, technical expertise and resolve - visible now in our emergency agencies, charities, brave reporters and local mayors - to shine through to our national leadership.

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The Murdoch Media: Polluting Australia's Airwaves? (video)

Lethal Heating - 27 January, 2020 - 04:15
Al Jazeera

Contributors
  • Richard Cooke - Contributing editor, The Monthly
  • Amy Remeikis - Political reporter, The Guardian Australia
  • Rodney Tiffen - Author, Rupert Murdoch: A Reassessment & Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney
  • James Painter - Research Associate, Reuters Institute and author, Climate Change in the Media
In Australia, soaring temperatures, extended droughts and strong winds have resulted in a wildfire season like no other.
Yet, as so much of the country burns, most of the Australian media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch refuse to call this story what scientists say it is: a disaster exacerbated by the climate crisis.
Millions of acres have been burned out, dozens of people have died, wildlife is on the run and papers like The Australian and networks like Sky News Australia are not only dismissing the scientific consensus, but are trafficking in some false, debunked narratives.
Murdoch's media empire has long held a disproportionate influence over Australian politics and he and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are united on this issue.
Throw in Murdoch's close ties to Australia's powerful fossil fuel lobby and all the elements are there for a conspiracy of disinformation on the biggest, gravest story of our time.


As bushfires flare, Murdoch's news empire peddles climate scepticism.

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If You Love Australia, Climate Change Should Scare The Hell Out Of You

Lethal Heating - 27 January, 2020 - 04:10
The Guardian

Conservatives love to talk up Australia ‘punching above its weight’, but they turn to self-hating cowards when it comes to climate change
‘Australia is a nation on the extremities, where climate change will affect and strip away what we love much sooner than will occur in Europe and North America.’ Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/API love Australia.
It’s not a thing you hear too often from progressives. Mostly this is because we don’t go in for the pathetic jingo-nationalist, quasi-militaristic “love it or leave it”-style patriotism that John Howard attempted to link with a love of country.
But I do love Australia. I get an absurd amount of irrational pride when I hear of Australians doing well.
When I read stories that Indigenous rock art might be among the oldest in the world I get excited and think, yeah suck it, caves of Cantabria!
I can still remember where I was when John Aloisi scored the winning penalty against Uruguay (jumping up in my home in Cairns and cutting my hand on the overhead fan), and like all sensible Australians I let out a deep groan whenever I hear someone start yet again an “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” chant at the tennis.
But my love has nothing to do with Australian Day and no, this is not an article about Australia Day.I mean, of course we should change the date. As one who grew up in country South Australia from German ancestors, the English landing in Sydney has never resonated for me as anything more than New South Wales Proclamation Day. Thanks for the holiday and the cricket at Adelaide Oval, but otherwise ...
Keep the public holiday – make it the last Monday in January – it is nicely timed to signal an end to the summer holidays. Call it “Summer Day” or some such and then find another day to actually celebrate the nation. Better still, become a republic and make it that day. But I digress.
This is not about Australia Day, but climate change.
Because I love Australia, and the real question is why don’t conservatives who refuse to do more on climate change love Australia? Because climate change will destroy much of what we love about this country of ours.
Much of what makes Australia unique and beloved by those of us lucky enough to live here is linked to the extremes of our land and climate.
This summer has shown how precarious our Australian lifestyle isIn my lifetime I have mostly lived in country areas – in South Australia on the Murray River, in Redlynch just north of Cairns, and now in the northern suburbs of the bush capital that is Canberra.
So I love our biggest river and the farming areas of wheat, sheep and dairy around my home town to the grapes and fruit in the Riverland where during uni I picked fruit in the summer holidays.
Then there are the tropics with Mossman Gorge, the glorious drive from Cairns to Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef and the late afternoon rains.
And yes, I love the surrounds of Canberra – where I can live near a national park with kangaroos and echidnas and be able to see the snow caps on the Brindabellas in winter and fiery red of the trees in autumn and the blossoms in spring.
As anyone who has spent any time overseas knows, there is something about the sky in Australia that is different – that shade of blue so perfectly captured by Tom Roberts in his painting A Break Away!. That gorgeous clear, crisp blue.
I must admit I don’t love Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country. I find the poem rather maudlin, but perhaps I am biased because I am sick of hearing climate change-denying politicians recite it as though it is evidence that climate change has not occurred.
Because here’s the thing: when she published that poem in 1908, the average annual temperature in Australia was about 2C lower than it is now.
And those conservatives who recite the line about “a sunburnt country” ignore that climate change is going to wreak havoc with everything we love – that tenuous balance of droughts and flooding rains, the ability of agriculture to exist on “thirsty paddocks”, our rivers, our wildlife where “orchids deck the treetops”, even the crisp air and “pitiless blue sky”.
This summer has shown how precarious our Australian lifestyle is – the bushfires that have not stopped since September; the mix of fires, smoke, dust, hail (and that is just in Canberra in the past fortnight). We are a nation on the extremities, where climate change will affect and strip away what we love much sooner than will occur in Europe and North America.
No patriotic Australian can be anything but angry to read stories of a billion or more animals killed in the fires – especially when you realise the koalas on Kangaroo Island are chlamydia-free and are essentially the best protection against their extinction.
Our wildlife is so exceptional and precious that the upset in balance that comes from climate change will render some habitats unliveable.
To read that the platypus is facing extinction due to human activity exacerbated by climate change should have every patriotic Australian filled with rage.
Conservative patriots love to talk up Australia “punching above its weight” on things such as sport or business or war, but they turn to self-hating cowards when it comes to climate change.
Yes, Australia “only” accounts for around 1.3% of emissions (of course well above what you would expect given our population), but given the fragility of our ecosystem, any political leaders who profess to love Australia should be energising our diplomatic networks and using every economic and political lever we have to cajole, convince and encourage other nations to act on climate change.
We should do this even if it is out of purely selfish reasons of loving our country and wanting it to remain in the same state that has caused that love.
If you love Australia, climate change should scare the hell out of you because the reef, our rivers, our wildlife, our fresh air, even, as we have seen since December, our relaxed summer holidays are going to be stripped away from us.
Our government has more reason than most others outside of the Pacific Islands to be demanding global action on climate change.
Given our wealth we should be leading the way – leading by example rather than leading to ruin as our current government has been at the most recent climate change conferences.
What we love about Australia will be taken by climate change well before other nations who emit much more greenhouse gas will feel great changes. And that should enrage us and our representatives, and it should drive their actions.
I love Australia and so I want action on climate change. And if you love Australia, so should you.

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Blue Acceleration: Our Dash For Ocean Resources Mirrors What We’ve Already Done To The Land

Lethal Heating - 27 January, 2020 - 04:05
The Conversation

Oil tankers load up in a port at twilight. Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock

Humans are leaving a heavy footprint on the Earth, but when did we become the main driver of change in the planet’s ecosystems? Many scientists point to the 1950s, when all kinds of socioeconomic trends began accelerating. Since then, the world population has tripled. Fertiliser and water use expanded as more food was grown than ever before. The construction of motorways sped up to accommodate rising car ownership while international flights took off to satisfy a growing taste for tourism.
The scale of human demands on Earth grew beyond historic proportions. This post-war period became known as the “Great Acceleration”, and many believe it gave birth to the Anthropocene – the geological epoch during which human activity surpassed natural forces as the biggest influence on the functioning of Earth’s living systems.
But researchers studying the ocean are currently feeling a sense of déjà vu. Over the past three decades, patterns seen on land 70 years ago have been occurring in the ocean. We’re living through a “Blue Acceleration”, and it will have significant consequences for life on the blue planet.
Human claims on ocean resources and space have increased rapidly in the last three decades. Jouffray et al. (2020), Author providedWhy is the Blue Acceleration happening now?
As land-based resources have declined, hopes and expectations have increasingly turned to the ocean as a new engine of human development. Take deep sea mining. The international seabed and its mineral riches have excited commercial interest in recent years due to soaring commodity prices. According to the International Monetary Fund, the price of gold is up 454% since 2000, silver is up 317% and lead 493%. Around 1.4 million square kilometres of the seabed has been leased since 2001 by the International Seabed Authority for exploratory mining activities.
In some industries, technological advances have driven these trends. Virtually all offshore windfarms were installed in the last 20 years. The marine biotechnology sector scarcely existed at the end of the 20th century, and over 99% of genetic sequences from marine organisms found in patents were registered since 2000.
During the 1990s, as the Blue Acceleration got underway, the world population reached 6 billion. Today there are around 7.8 billion people. Population growth in water-scarce areas like the Middle East, Australia and South Africa has caused a three-fold growth in volumes of desalinated seawater generated since 2000. It has also meant a nearly four-fold increase in the volume of goods transported around the world by shipping since 2000.
Cargo ships enter Singapore – one of the busiest ports in the world. Donvictorio/ShutterstockWhy does the Blue Acceleration matter?
The ocean was once thought – even among prominent scientists – to be too vast to be changed by human activity. That view has been replaced by the uncomfortable recognition that not only can humans change the ocean, but also that the current trajectory of human demands on the ocean simply isn’t sustainable.
Consider the coast of Norway. The region is home to a multi-million dollar ocean-based oil and gas industry, aquaculture, popular cruises, busy shipping routes and fisheries. All of these interests are vying for the same ocean space, and their demands are growing. A five-fold increase in the number of salmon grown by aquaculture is expected by 2050, while the region’s tourism industry is predicted to welcome a five-fold increase in visitors by 2030. Meanwhile, vast offshore wind farms have been proposed off the southern tip of Norway.
The ocean is vast, but it’s not limitless. This saturation of ocean space is not unique to Norway, and a densely populated ocean space runs the risk of conflict across industries. Escapee salmon from aquaculture have spread sea lice in wild populations, creating tensions with Norwegian fisheries. An industrial accident in the oil and gas industry could cause significant damage to local seafood and tourism as well as the seafood export market.
A salmon farm off the coast of Vestland, Norway. Marius Dobilas/ShutterstockMore fundamentally, the burden on ocean ecosystems is growing, and we simply don’t know as much about these ecosystems as we would like. An ecologist once quipped that fisheries management is the same as forestry management. Instead of trees you’re counting fish, except you can’t see the fish, and they move.Exploitation of the ocean has tended to precede exploration. One iconic example is the scaly-foot snail. This deep sea mollusc was discovered in 1999 and was on the IUCN Red List of endangered species by 2019. Why? As far as scientists can tell, the species is only found in three hydrothermal vent systems more than 2,400 metres below the Indian Ocean, covering less than 0.02 square kilometres. Today, two of the three vent systems fall within exploratory mining leases.

What next?
Billionaires dreaming of space colonies can dream a little closer to home. Even as the Blue Acceleration consumes more of the ocean’s resources, this vast area is every bit as mysterious as outer space. The surfaces of Mars and the Moon have been mapped in higher resolution than the seafloor. Life in the ocean has existed for two billion years longer than on land and an estimated 91% of marine species have not been described by science. Their genetic adaptations could help scientists develop the antibiotics and medicines of tomorrow, but they may disappear long before that’s possible.
Scientists have barely sampled the diversity of life in the deep sea. NOAA/UnsplashCC BY-SAThe timing is right for guiding the Blue Acceleration towards more sustainable and equitable trajectories. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is about to begin, a new international treaty on ocean biodiversity is in its final stages of negotiation, and in June 2020, governments, businesses, academics and civil society will assemble for the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.Yet many simple questions remain. Who is driving the Blue Acceleration? Who is benefiting from it? And who is being left out or forgotten? These are all urgent questions, but perhaps the most important and hardest to answer of all is how to create connections and engagement across all these groups. Otherwise, the drivers of the Blue Acceleration will be like the fish in the ecologist’s analogy: constantly moving, invisible and impossible to manage – before it is too late.

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(AU) Dear Australia, Elegy For A Summer Of Loss

Lethal Heating - 26 January, 2020 - 04:10
Croakey - Amy Coopes

The climate emergency seemed so abstract. It was something that was happening elsewhere, to other people. Until it wasn’t
‘The ochre and rust of another hazy sunrise spilling through the blinds heralded more of the same. Asphyxia. Inertia.’ The view in North Albury on 5 January 2020. Photograph: Amy Coopes Amy CoopesOver the summer, Amy Coopes spent long hours on Twitter sharing bushfire news, especially for her local community of Albury and surrounds, on Wiradjuri Country in southern NSW.
Her tweets also conveyed an angry frustration with the inadequacy of federal and state government responses to the bushfire health crisis, as well as to the climate health crisis more broadly.
In Dear Australia, Elegy For A Summer Of Loss, published as part of our ongoing contribution to the global collaboration, Covering Climate Now, Coopes urges readers to rise to the challenges facing us, not only this summer, but in the years ahead as the impact of the climate crisis becomes even more evident. For months leading into this bleakest of summers, all anyone out this way could talk about was the dry. It crunched underfoot, was carried on the furnace-blast of a breeze, dust and dry leaves rattling down the wide avenues and riverbanks of the once mighty Murray River like a premonition of loss.
It was written in the furrowed brows of farmers poring over district forecasts like they were scripture – ethereal in their promise of deliverance or damnation. Dry as the bones, pronounced, beneath the hides of animals starving and stunned; landscape bleached as a fossil.
Flying into Sydney in early December as the fires ringing the city had just started to burn in earnest, I had a sense of something momentous and profound unfolding, although it still seemed like a distant crisis, one that was happening elsewhere, to other people.
The smoke was so thick every aircraft coming in was instructed to land with full instrumentation, so we spent 40 minutes in a holding pattern over enormous fire fronts, swinging lazy circles over great billowing plumes of ember and soot.
Walking across the tarmac from the turboprop, I glanced back over my shoulder at the blood orange sun, ash sprinkling from the amber sky.
Flying into Sydney on 6 December 2019. Photograph: Amy CoopesWhen speaking at an event that evening, I joked that back home we had no water but the air was clean. Go west, where the skies are blue. I left the stash of P2 masks I’d picked up, only half-seriously, on my way to the airport with a friend who said she was taking an Uber to meetings a block away because her asthma was so bad she couldn’t walk more than a few hundred metres.Even as I was going through the motions, paying lip service to the Anthropocene, it still seemed surreal, somehow. I got on to the plane and flew back over the Great Dividing Range, vast eucalypt tracts fizzing smoke, descending once again into the arid, but breathable, air of home.
There was a certain sense of foreboding in the hills in the lead-up to Christmas, as though the kindling landscape was holding its breath. The smoke swirled in from hundreds of kilometres north and settled for the festive season. We ate under grey skies, the house shuttered and our heads aching from the fumes, nights punctuated by the kind of toddler asthma attacks that leave you wired until dawn. What if he stops breathing?
Hard-earned pennies were pinched and scraped to install an air purifier in his room, and in the nursery too. We didn’t need to leave our beds to know what kind of day it would be. The ochre and rust of another hazy sunrise spilling through the blinds heralded more of the same. Asphyxia. Inertia. Well before it visited itself upon us, the taste was everywhere. Death.

New year
New year brought conflagration. The text messages began rolling in. Are you OK? Sure, why wouldn’t we be? Turn on the news.
It’s a gut-churning thing to see the names of places you love, those territories of the self and heart, suddenly headlines in a story of unspeakable horror. A tornado of flame, generated by infernos of such ferocity they create their own weather, rolling a fire truck. An unborn child who will never know their father, only his sacrifice.
As small communities, we are constellations of people and place, oriented and anchored by and to one another. Talmalmo, Jingellic, Walwa, Corryong are more than just names in a news broadcast or an emergency warning. They are home to our families, our patients, our colleagues, our friends.
For the diverse nations who live and gather along the tributaries of the Murray, the Milawa Billa, there could not be a grief more piercing than watching centuries of colonial mismanagement culminate in this ultimate desecration of country, with totem and traditional routes, sacred and spiritual places pared to ash.
We all know someone who has lost something; everything. Photos from friends of a wall of fire racing across paddocks, engulfing life as it was once known. Everything is gone. The scars on our landscape will heal, but will we?

A new decade
Instead of celebrating, we rang in the new decade listening to emergency broadcasts, refreshing the Country Fire Authority and Rural Fire Service feeds, and watching Australian Defence Force water tankers flying low over our house. People gathered, muted and pale, in their yards to watch the midnight fireworks a few blocks away as the southerly swept in, acrid with ash.
Hours before the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, called his late-night press conference to announce an unprecedented state of disaster and wholesale evacuations of East Gippsland and the north-east, we’d glanced at each other uneasily as our phones had chirped, simultaneously, with an emergency text. You need to leave were the first four words.
Surely we’ll be safe here, we said, images of what had played out in Mallacoota that week vivid in our minds. The closest bush was 2km away, the fire station on the corner. Still. The rule book appeared to have been torched. We’d been asking for years that the landlord clear the gutters; all it would take was an ember on the right sort of wind.
Where would we go if it came to it? Should we pack a bag? If we had to leave everything behind, what would be essential to take? We laughed at ourselves as we had these conversations – the river would be safe, if we could drive. The showground, if we had to walk. We found the passports.
There were other matters to consider as thousands of people from surrounding villages and communities streamed into town, towing caravans, horse floats, trailers crammed with all things practical and precious. The supermarkets began selling out of water, servos between here and more distant towns ran out of petrol. It seemed prepper paranoid, but we agreed I should go out and fill up the car and do a massive shop. Just in case.
Venturing out into the eerie still of the morning at sunrise, it could have been winter, a mephitic fug enveloping the town like mist. By the time I came out of the supermarket, where the water shelves were stripped bare and the aisles were hazy, the smoke had rolled in so thick they had disabled the automatic doors and taped a sign over the glass. Auto doors closed due to smoke. Please use side doors. Above the blood bank the sun rose, sanguineous; soporific.
Myer Centrepoint, central Albury, on 3 January. Photograph: Amy Coopes
Central Albury on 3 January. Photograph: Amy CoopesThe sports stadium down the street opened to evacuees, along with the showground. I’d never seen so many people in town, their apprehension as palpable as the baking heat.
The outpouring of support for displaced and dispossessed families and for firefighters was astonishing. Within hours of the RFS issuing their daily list of required items for affected communities and crews, it would be filled.
Traffic was banked up for kilometres along the bush blocks adjoining the RFS HQ, an operation of military precision marshalling locals and their stocked boots to the driveway to unload. Dozens of volunteers sorted goods on to pallets and into shipping containers for distribution to outlying communities where people were without power, water or food. Some had lost the roof over their heads, their world reduced to ash.
A ute sat in the RFS driveway, its tray overflowing with fruit and vegetables, a pallet stacked with eskies dropped off the by the environment minister, Sussan Ley, alongside.
We handed over half a dozen shopping bags, and a drawing by our three-year-old son for the fireys. A burly volunteer crouched down to shake his hand and pinned it up, pride of place, on the noticeboard. As we prepared to leave, a pensioner pulled up in a clapped-out Commodore, a plastic bag full of odds and ends proffered from the passenger seat. It isn’t much, I’m sorry. I blinked away tears.
Albury, January 2020. Photograph: Amy CoopesBreaking
The day of the firestorm, 4 January, we hit a record-breaking 46C in town. Clumsy with foreboding, I stepped awkwardly off our back deck and broke my ankle, lying dazed and thirsty in the heat. While the worst of the winds swept across the firegrounds I was in hospital, nauseous with morphine and still gripping the “green whistle”, though it had long since been sucked empty.
By sunrise, I was sober, but the air outside was so toxic that, propped up in bed with towels stuffed around the doors and windows, I still had to wear a mask. Our 10-month-old was so hoarse and distressed I gave her Ventolin; she isn’t asthmatic.
The PM2.5 reading (something I had only a passing acquaintance with before this summer) climbed steadily throughout the day to almost 3,000 – 15 times the level considered hazardous – before the local monitoring station went offline for the best part of a day. It seemed symbolic of the cataclysm that had unfolded in the surrounding towns and valleys, where the skies were a filthy orange and visibility reduced to metres at best.
Days stretched into another week of wheezing confinement, while the prime minister bleated on about Australia being the best country in the world to raise kids. I cried when, during one of those impromptu toddler confidences, my son told me that one day he’d be older than me. I cried because I wonder if he will.
To live to be my age, he will have to make it to 2055, when climate change will have rendered much of the planet inhospitable to human life, driven mass extinctions of almost every kind of species, and unleashed civil unrest over resources like food and water on a scale at which there is no precedent in human history.
Moreso than the anxiety or political fury of this summer, I have been gripped by an insurmountable grief for my children and the life I took for granted which they will never be able to share.
In a matter of days, 9 January, there was another evacuation order, more fires. Several straddling state borders joined up to become a “megablaze”, terminology I’d never had need for before this grim new decade. Millions of hectares of pristine national park went up, places as familiar to me as laboured breath. The roof of Australia aflame, the Alps snowy at the height of summer, with ash.
As ever-increasing tracts of Mount Buffalo burned we could, on a rare clear evening, see the great fungating shadow of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud looming over the horizon, a sign that what raged below was so intense it was generating its own weather.
Fire maps for 10 January 2020 in NSW. Photograph: Amy Coopes Defining images
There are many images that will come to define this summer: smog settling so thick over Sydney Harbour its iconic landmarks were obscured, the starved and scorched koalas of Kangaroo Island, a masked schoolkid steering a tinny offshore as Mallacoota was devoured by an avaricious inferno, Scott Morrison hanging a shaka on the Waikiki waterfront.
But if you’ve lived in a fire zone, the pyroCb or cumulonimbus flammagenitus will stay with you forever, as a harbinger of the Anthropocene. Ignis aurum probat.
Ten days into the decade, the alerts sounded uncomfortably close to home. A grass fire on the Beechworth-Wodonga road – a route we would have travelled more times than you could count – was suddenly racing out of control towards the semi-rural outskirts of Wodonga, our sister city, home to some 40,000 people, just across the Murray River.
As quickly as it had started, fuelled by a wild southerly change with lightning and 100km/h winds, the blaze was declared emergency level. You are in danger. Act now to protect yourself. It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately.
Those in the area who could evacuate made their way into town to shelter at The Cube performance space; others hosed down their roofs and gutters, watching anxiously as water bombing aircraft flew sorties overhead, trying to contain the advancing flames.
Defence crews were mobilised as the blaze spotted towards a string of barracks and bases where hundreds of unfortunate people displaced earlier in the week had taken refuge. In the next valley, residents of a relatively new development known as White Box Rise were urged to get out.
In among the frantic messages from loved ones as we again hit the headlines was a text from friends who had just bought in White Box and had been scheduled to return from Melbourne that week from their Christmas holiday with their newborn baby. We’d convinced them to delay due to the smoke. This is the other side of our hill, they captioned a screenshot of the emergency alert. Sweet Jesus. Our house.
As night fell, the winds eased, and a smattering of rain brought some much-needed reprieve. Evacuees were, in waves, permitted to return home. There was a nagging, contradictory sense that the gun was never really loaded, but we’d dodged a bullet nonetheless.

Golden words
Reams have already been written about this grim summer; an unwelcome but imperative clarion call to the millions of us sleepwalking toward the abyss.
Just two months ago I sat in a climate-themed medical conference where they discussed the need for field hospitals, colocation of emergency triage and primary care, new ways of doing business when the climate rendered business-as-usual obsolete. The fires were burning, even then, and Prof David Bowman warned us that this was a season like no other.
Yet it all seemed so abstract; so rhetorical. The climate emergency was something that was happening elsewhere, to other people. Until it wasn’t.
Andrews has described this as a summer of firsts; there’s been so many now they seem to have lost impact as time goes on.
But there are snapshots of this season I won’t forget. Toddlers receiving commendations for bravery on behalf of fathers who will miss a lifetime of milestones. Stepping on to the tarmac under that ominous, orange sky, the scarcest smattering of ash on the breeze. Evacuation sirens; smoke so dense it cancels out the sun. The fear in my son’s eyes as he struggled to catch a breath. Thousands upon thousands of livestock charred and scattered by the road; millions upon millions of native animals – likely entire species – incinerated.
We need new words for collective grief of this scale.
There are political observations to be made, and urgent agendas to be advanced if – and indeed, it feels so precariously like an if – we wish to survive. Already, the goalposts have shifted to “the new normal”; summers spent indoors lest the air chokes us all, Christmas under slate and noxious skies, evacuation orders covering ever-larger concentric circles until, at last, there is nothing left to burn and nowhere left to run.
If we are to take anything from this season of solastalgia, it must be the immense grace and goodwill, courage and conviction that abides in our communities and comes to the fore when it’s needed most.
As our climate becomes more hostile, perhaps the single greatest risk is that, in tandem, so do we. The learned helplessness of neoliberalism not only invites us to believe that we, as individuals, are powerless, it depends on it.
But we’ve seen something else entirely forged in these long months: leadership from the grassroots, the ability of communities to rally around one another not thanks to political action but in spite of it.
Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros. As gold is tempered by fire, so strong men are tempered by suffering.
Collectively, our strength is infinite. Now, more than ever, we must live as testament to that.
Amy Coopes, photographed on 6 January 2020. Photograph: Amy Coopes

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(Videos) Tough Business Questions About The Climate Crisis

Lethal Heating - 26 January, 2020 - 04:05
Harvard Business Review - Andy Robinson

ARTWORK: Thomas Jackson, Cups no. 5, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, 2019. Courtesy of Ellen Miller Gallery. Andrew Winston is the founder of Winston Eco-Strategies and a global expert on business and sustainability.
He is the author of the books The Big Pivot and Green to Gold, and articles including Resilience in a Hotter World and Leading a New Era of Climate Action.
Andy Robinson is a multimedia producer at Harvard Business Review. Big shifts need to happen in business so the world can avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
But it can be difficult to know what your role is in this process — and you may even wonder whether you can make a difference at all.
Does what you do as an entry-level employee or a small business owner really matter? Can we get where the science tells us we need to be within capitalism? And is it worth being optimistic when the planet seems doomed?
The Harvard Business Review approached Andrew Winston with questions and concerns people may have about climate action.

What if helping the environment isn’t profitable for my business? 

I’m a small business owner. Isn’t combating climate change a job for big companies?

Can we fight climate change within capitalism?

What can convince business leaders to act on climate change?

People say they want green products, but don’t they just buy what’s cheap?

Is fighting climate change a job for businesses in developing economiesor just developed regions?

I’m an entry-level employee. How can I get my company to act on climate change?

Climate change is a crisis. How do you stay optimistic?

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What Did We Learn From Davos 2020?

Lethal Heating - 26 January, 2020 - 04:00
The Guardian

Greta Thunberg at the 50th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters Climate crisis, Greta Thunberg and Trump were at core of 50th World Economic Forum
Since 1971, politicians, business leaders, academics, journalists and representatives of civil society have been travelling to the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the town immortalised by Thomas Mann in his novel The Magic Mountain.
The meeting – described as the place where billionaires tell millionaires how the middle classes should live their lives – ended on Friday. So what did we learn from the 50th gathering?

For some, the penny has dropped about the climate emergency
This was the “global heating Davos”, with session after session devoted to the topic. For Mark Carney, in his last weeks as governor of the Bank of England before stepping down, the story was not the near unanimity among policymakers, but that the financial sector – including the big banks of Wall Street – now understands the investment risk of global heating and is starting to adjust its behaviour accordingly.

The past year has turned Greta Thunberg from a Davos curiosity into a household name and global force
At the start of the 2019 Davos, Thunberg was a 16-year-old Swedish student going on strike from school to protest against the lack of action on global heating. She electrified last year’s WEF and was even bigger news this time, going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump and members of his cabinet, and getting the better of the exchanges. Most seasoned Davos hands thought Steve Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, had blundered when he said he would only start listening to Thunberg when she had a degree in economics.

Davos has a love-hate relationship with Trump
For the second time in three years, Trump turned up at the annual festival of globalisation – more visits than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama managed between them in the combined 16 years of their presidencies. The chief executives of the multinationals that flock to Davos find Trump strangely compelling in spite of his anti-globalist views. He was comfortably the biggest draw of the week. There were a few titters as Trump boasted of the economic miracle he has created in the US, but privately American big business likes tax cuts, likes deregulation and would rather have him in the White House than any Democrat.

The mood among the UK business community is more upbeat following the election
It would be wrong to imagine that UK plc is jumping for joy that Britain is leaving the EU at the end of next week, but there is a sense of relief that much of the uncertainty is over. A year ago, when Theresa May was struggling vainly to get her withdrawal bill through parliament, businesses were putting investment on hold because they were in the dark about how Brexit would unfold. Following last month’s general election, some of the projects that were mothballed have been given the go-ahead. The global economy may also have bottomed out.
There wasn’t much of a UK presence
Along with Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson decided that hobnobbing with people Theresa May once called the citizens of nowhere was not the best political look. At one time it looked as if there would be no UK cabinet minister in Davos, but in the end Sajid Javid was left to fly the flag. There were plenty of ex-ministers around though: the former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, the former prime minister Gordon Brown and the former chancellor George Osborne among them. May also did a turn to the citizens of nowhere at a PwC drinks reception.

The cybersecurity threat got personal, but Davos didn’t want to talk about it
On the first day of Davos, the Guardian broke the story that the Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, had apparently been hacked by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. Cybersecurity is always on the agenda and there was a personal twist this year, because many of those attending Davos came into contact with Prince Mohammed on the trip when he met Bezos and maybe also exchanged mobile phone numbers with him. The Guardian tracked down three of them: Mnuchin; the Apple CEO, Tim Cook; and the Microsoft boss, Satya Nadella. However, despite their public commitments to openness and transparency, none was prepared to talk about it.

A sombre Davos had its amusing moments
There wasn’t an awful lot to laugh about in Davos, what with the backdrop of global heating, cyber-threats, and the coronavirus. But there were the odd moments of levity. Trump provided one of them, albeit unwittingly, with his claim that the US was enjoying a “boom the likes of which the world has never seen”. That would only be true if American history began on the day he was elected president. Javid provided one of the others. Pressing the flesh at a CBI lunch, he was asked by one business leader: “Who are you?” Not realising he was being teased, a visibly taken aback Javid replied: “I’m the chancellor.”

Planes, trains and automobiles
Davos says it gets the existential threat of the climate crisis, but does it really? Prince Charles flew to Switzerland by private jet, before switching to an electric car to give the WEF the benefit of his wisdom on how to save the planet. One delegate, kept waiting in the cold while Trump was being whisked from the conference centre to his hotel, tried to count the number of cars in the president’s motorcade and wasn’t quite sure whether there were 37 or 39. The WEF says most attendees arrived by train and that the Zurich group will plant 13,000 trees: one for every one of the bright blue bobble hats it has handed out for free.

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(AU) Australia Singled Out For Climate 'Denial' At Doomsday Clock Event

Lethal Heating - 25 January, 2020 - 04:15
Sydney Morning HeraldMatthew Knott

Washington: Former California governor Jerry Brown has blasted the Australian government's "utter and absolute" denial of the threat of climate change at an event warning the world is closer than ever before to a man-made apocalypse.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Thursday (Friday AEDT) announced it was moving its famous Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than at any point in its 73-year history because of the growing risk of climate change, nuclear war and disinformation.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 100 Seconds to Midnight. Credit:The Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsSeveral speakers at the announcement in Washington DC held up the Australian bushfire crisis as an example of the extreme and deadly weather events that will become more common unless the world dramatically reduces its carbon emissions.
Brown, who oversaw the response to California's most destructive wildfire crisis in 2018, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he had no hope the Morrison government would become a global leader on tackling climate change.
"The Australian government is in utter and complete denial," he said.
"Under its current leadership, Australia is fostering denial in an incredibly mendacious way.
"Until Australians throw out their current leaders they will continue this way ... It's time to wake up."
Brown is the longest serving governor in the history of California, which has almost 40 million residents - more than any other US state. He served two terms beginning in 1975 before returning to office again in 2010.
Jerry Brown, right, visiting wildfire-damaged regions in California with US President Donald Trump in 2018. Credit:APBrown made climate change his signature issue, suing the Trump administration over its environmental policies and mandating 100 per cent carbon-free electricity in the state by 2045.
He is now executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which moved its Doomsday Clock forward to 100 seconds to midnight. This is the first time it has passed the two-minute mark since it was launched in 1947.
Rachel Bronson, chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: "We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds, not hours or even minutes.
"We now face a true emergency - an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay."


The RBA is warning climate change could lead to the next global financial break down.

Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, said: "To test the limits of earth's habitable temperature is madness. It's a madness akin to the nuclear madness that is again threatening the world."
He said extreme weather events over the past year were a portent of what was to come unless the world takes drastic action on climate change.
"Wildfires raged from the Arctic to Australia," Kartha said.
"They now persist with an unprecedented intensity, extent and duration that makes them harder to contain ... The very idea of a limited fire season is becoming a thing of the past."
Former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said: 'From the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, to deadlock at nuclear disarmament talks and paralysis at the UN security council, our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most."
Speaking from the World Economic Forum's annual meting in Davos, Switzerland, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann defended Australia's record on climate change.
"We have a very ambitious climate change policy, we are absolutely committed to effective action on climate change," Cormann told CNBC.
"We are a large continent with a small population, so considering the emissions reduction targets we’ve committed to on a per capita basis we will be more than halving emissions and indeed we will be reducing the emissions intensity in our economy by two-thirds.
"That is more ambitious than the UK, than Canada, than New Zealand, than many other countries around the world."

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(AU) Reserve Bank Urged To Battle 'Green Swan' Risks Of Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 25 January, 2020 - 04:10
ABC NewsStephen Letts

The value of stranded fossil fuel assets worldwide could be as high as $26 trillion. (ABC News: Michael Barnett) Key points
  • Climate change has the potential to spark the next major global financial crisis according to the BIS
  • Central banks' mandates for maintaining financial stability meant they are likely to become "climate rescuers' of last resort"
  • The BIS argues central banks like the RBA may have to bail out the fossil fuel industry 
The Reserve Bank may have to take over stranded coal mines and coal-fired power stations to fulfil its mandate for financial stability, according to one of the world's most powerful financial institutions, the Bank for International Settlements.
The BIS, which is owned by the world's 60 largest central banks (including the RBA) and is commonly referred to as the "central banks' central bank", said climate change may well spark the next great global financial crisis and regulators needed to address the potential risks urgently.
In a major study released from its Geneva headquarters, BIS general manager Agustín Carstens argued the financial stability mandates at the heart of central bank operations around the world meant they needed to be involved in mitigating the financial risks posed by climate change.
"In the worst case scenario, central banks may have to confront a situation where they are called upon by their local constituencies to intervene as climate rescuers of last resort," the BIS report warned.
"For example, a new financial crisis caused by green swan events severely affecting the financial health of the banking and insurance sectors could force central banks to intervene and buy a large set of carbon-intensive assets and/or assets stricken by physical impacts."The BIS uses the "green swan" concept as climate-change alternative to the term "black swan", used to to describe unexpected and extreme occurrences that have major effects, which could be anything from terrorist attacks to disruptive technologies or a natural disaster.

The next global financial crisis?
The BIS Green Swan report argued current risk assessment and climate change models cannot anticipate accurately enough the form that climate-related risks will take and the "potentially extremely financially disruptive events that could be behind the next systemic financial crisis."
The value of the world's stranded fossil fuel reserves is massive but difficult to pin down according to the report, ranging from Carbon Tracker's $US1.6 trillion ($2.3 trillion) estimate to the International Renewable Energy Agency's 2017 calculation of $US18 trillion ($26 trillion).
"Under an abrupt transition scenario (e.g. with significant stranded assets), financial assets could be subject to a change in investors' perception of profitability," the BIS warned.
"This loss in market value can potentially lead to fire sales, which could trigger a financial crisis."
Climate and economy linkedThe Morrison Government risks being stranded at the intersection of climate change related disasters and their economic fallout, writes Ian Verrender.
Due to investments in and loans to fossil fuel producers, financial risks would spread throughout global markets leading to a mass of defaults and tightening banks' liquidity and ability to lend, in much the same way as the contagion caused by the collapse of the US subprime mortgage sector spread rapidly worldwide during the 2008 financial crisis.
While the BIS found there is much central banks can do, it noted they cannot act in isolation.
It said central banks should more involved coordinating climate change actions among major players — governments, the private sector and the international community.
The report found key areas for central bank involvement included:
  • Climate mitigation policies such as carbon pricing;
  • Integrating sustainability into financial practices and accounting frameworks;
  • Developing new financial mechanisms at the international level.
"Green swan events may force central banks to intervene as 'climate rescuers of last resort' and buy large sets of devalued assets, to save the financial system once more," it warned."However, the biophysical foundations of such a crisis and its potentially irreversible impacts would quickly show the limits of this 'wait and see' strategy.
"On the other hand, central banks cannot — and should not — simply replace governments and private actors to make up for their insufficient action, despite growing social pressures to do so."

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